Il Vicolo Trattoria
Italian cuisine and a cozy ambiance in Oak Park
Il Vicolo translates from Italian to English as “the alley.” And with this restaurant’s prime downtown Oak Park location set directly adjacent to a charming street-like walkway and outdoor space — adorned with bistro tables and strings of overhead lights — it’s easy to see how appropriate the nomenclature is.
The comprehensive menu is enough to transport diners straight to Napoli. From an array of antipasti selections, thin crust pizzas and homemade pastas, to Neapolitan influenced meat and seafood entrées and an assortment of sweet finishes, the menu has classic Italian cuisine covered.
As servers descend on the table to bring warm bread and olive oil, be sure to look over the wine list and settle in. A glass of Italian wine — Chianti or Sangiovese — will bring out a true European ambiance. On a nice night, splurge on a bottle, priced at a very reasonable $15 – $25, and linger over your sipping selections al fresco.
The Grigliata Mista di Pesce is an antipasti that showcases Il Vicolo’s command of fresh seafood. It features grilled calamari, shrimp and octopus over mixed greens with lemon vinaigrette. If you are only going to opt for one appetizer, try the Calamari Fritti, which has a light, tempura-style breading andi s tender, not chewy.
Neapolitan-style pizzas, ranging from traditional Margherita to Prosciutto e Arugula, feature a light crust and paper-thin pie. Diners can substitute for fresh buffola mozzarella for $6 and experience a true taste of Italy.
While the pizza selections certainly offer a slice of authenticity, the handmade pastas are not to be overlooked. “People come back for our 8 Finger Cavatelli,” said our delightful server. This dish boasts pillowy-soft homemade ricotta cavatelli noodles, complete with tasty but mild sausage, crunchy green peas and a rich, tangy tomato cream sauce. The portion size is just right, even allowing for a bit of leftovers to be enjoyed the next day.
Entrée options also include a variety of steak, veal, fish and chicken dishes. The Pollo Vesuvio is a classic chicken breast with white wine sauce, served with peas and roasted potatoes. For fewer carbs, grab a summer-ready Il Vicolo Salad — topped with strawberries, apples and walnuts — and a side of homemade meatballs.
The dessert menu includes photos, making it nearly impossible to resist ordering one of the many signature sweets. Chocolate lovers, the lava cake is calling your name.
It’s a warm soufflé which takes about five minutes to prepare. Served with a scoop of creamy vanilla gelato, it’s well worth the wait. Or, for something more traditional and crunchy, opt for the cannoli. The filling is some of the best around and it’s not assembled until ordered, keeping the shell extra crispy.
On weekends, Il Vocolo features live entertainment. Reservations are accepted and parking is available on the street as well as in a nearby public garage.
Tortino De Melanzane Penne Prosciutto e Piselli; Tiramisu
Appetizers: $12 – $17
Pasta: $15 – $20
Entrées: $19 – $37
M - Sat: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Sun: 4 – 10 p.m.
Outdoor patio seating; full bar; reservations recommended.